Random Balkan notes

Bosnia has Cinnamon Toast Crunch (WHY HAVE I BEEN LIVING IN BULGARIA FOR 3 YEARS AND NOT BOSNIA?!).

There was a children’s puppet show at sundown in Old Town Kotor, Montenegro, and it had an environmental theme:

So far as we could tell from our limited comprehension of Serbian/Montenegrin (based on our limited knowledge of Bulgarian), the main characters were that trash collector with his dancing dumpster and recycle bin pals, two conscientious neighborhood women, and one punk who wears his ballcap backwards (which clearly makes him EVIL), throws trash out into The Nature, and uproots flowers just for the sadistic pleasure of it.

In a quest to eat something other than Balkan food (given that it’s basically all the same as Bulgarian food which we’ve been eating for three years), we have started trying to get international cuisine when we can. In the last few days, we’ve had Montenegrin Chinese food, Bosnian Mexican food, and Bosnian sushi. The Bosnian sushi was by far the best. Montenegrin Chinese food is better than Bulgarian Chinese food but is still not really Chinese food. Bosnian Mexican food was not great, maybe around the same level as Egyptian Mexican, worse than German Mexican and well behind Macedonian Mexican, which is still the best we’ve found anywhere outside the U.S.

Бала

It feels pointless to even make any “I’m alive!” jokes, as this is just my 5th post of 2012. So in a nutshell, yes I’m still alive, yes I’m still in Bulgaria, yes it’s still weird sometimes, yes the paradoxical trend of my seeming to get busier and busier the more teaching experience I have continues. I have still been keeping a list of things I want to write about eventually, but it is now a list of seemingly free-associative topics that make very little sense anymore, so I don’t know that I will ever get to them.

But one topic I’ve had on that list since last year is “prom,” and since the class of 2012 just had their prom last night, plus I happened to witness some prom arrivals in Kazanlak this past weekend from my hotel balcony (there’s another post that needs to be written), this seemed like as good a time as any to finally write the post (one year late better than never).

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The beautiful game

Last Friday, I attended my first professional football match in Bulgaria (and my first in general since I was in middle school) — a UEFA European Championship 2012 qualifying match between England and Bulgaria at Vassil Levski Stadium downtown. Going into the match, England was in first place in Group G with a record of 3-2-0. Bulgaria was fourth in the group with a record of 1-2-2 (the other members of the qualifying group are Montenegro, Switzerland, and Wales).

It was cool to be inside Levski for the first time, and national anthems are always fun:

(The first time I watched the playback of this video, I could swear they were singing “Tessie” at first, probably due to the drunk Germans behind us who were belting tunelessly along)

Nice moment with the BG anthem and the patriotic crowd:

Long story short, Bulgaria was pretty overmatched. It was 3-0 England at the half, and you could tell they weren’t even really trying in the second half, just kind of kicking the ball around to each other and Bulgaria still couldn’t do much. Bulgaria only had a few shots on goal and a couple of corner kicks all night. Final score stayed 3-0, England.

However, here are the more important questions that emerged for me from this experience… Continue reading